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New hope for liver disease: curcumin in tumeric spice fights liver damage and cirrhosis

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: curcumin, cirrhosis, health news

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(NaturalNews) For countless centuries, turmeric has been used not only as a spice but as a healing aid in traditional Asian medicine. For example, historically it has been consumed to help gastrointestinal problems, arthritic pain, and a lack of energy. And in recent years, scientists have documented that tumeric and the natural compound it contains called curcumin may protect and heal due to anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties.

In fact, as NaturalNews previously reported, researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have found that curcumin, when combined with piperine (a component of black pepper), could play an important role in preventing and even treating breast cancer (http://www.naturalnews.com/027831_turmeric_p...). Now a new study published in the gastroenterology and hepatology journal Gut suggests curcumin could be a treatment for yet another serious health problem -- liver damage and cirrhosis.

"Chronic cholangiopathies (bile duct diseases) have limited therapeutic options and represent an important indication for liver transplantation. Curcumin, the yellow pigment of the spice turmeric, has pleiotropic (multiple effect) actions and attenuates hepatic damage in animal models of chemically-induced liver injury," the authors of the study, scientists in the division of gastroenterology and heptology at Medical University Graz in Austria, wrote.

So what causes bile duct problems? Genetic predispositions, injury, infections, and drinking alcohol to excess are all possible causes. The reason bile duct diseases are so dangerous -- and sometimes fatal -- is that when the liver's bile ducts swell they can scar and become irreversibly blocked. This causes serious liver damage to develop, leading to fatal cirrhosis.

Bottom line: bile duct diseases are life threatening and mainstream medicine has come up with few ways to help other than liver transplants. However, there's now tantalizing evidence that curcumin may help heal livers naturally.

For their study, the Austrian research team gave curcumin to lab mice who had chemically induced liver injuries. After consuming diets supplemented with curcumin for four to eight weeks, the rodents' liver damage was dramatically lessened. What's more, the addition of the spice component to the animals' food improved a serious liver condition known as sclerosing cholangitis, an autoimmune disorder.

In their paper, the researchers theorized that curcumin has multiple beneficial effects on liver health. For instance, they noted that the spice component blocked signal pathways necessary for inflammation to occur -- and that, in turn, slowed the progress of scarring which leads to reduced bile duct blockage and damage to liver cells.

Editor's note: NaturalNews is opposed to the use of animals in medical experiments that expose them to harm. We present these findings in protest of the way in which they were acquired.

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